Opioid addicts turn to veterinarians to feed habit - KCTV5 News

Opioid addicts turn to veterinarians to feed habit

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Some veterinarians have authority prescribe opioids and painkillers for animals. The pet owner, not the pet itself, can end up taking those drugs. (AP) Some veterinarians have authority prescribe opioids and painkillers for animals. The pet owner, not the pet itself, can end up taking those drugs. (AP)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

The opioid crisis in our country has some states cracking down on prescriptions, but some addicts are finding a new way to get their fix, thanks to their pets.

Just this year, Missouri became the last state to institute a statewide drug monitoring program that will track controlled drug prescriptions, including opioids.

That tracking system, like many other states, does not include prescriptions written by veterinarians. 

Some veterinarians have authority prescribe opioids and painkillers for animals. The pet owner, not the pet itself, can end up taking those drugs.  

James Penrod is the executive director of the American Association of Veterinary State Boards. He says reports of people using their pets medication is rare, but it does happen, and veterinarians are aware of the possibility. 

“We see (veterinary boards) provide training to their licensees to recognize when those kid of doctor shoppers come into the clinics,” Penrod said. “An example might be a client calling a week after the prescription was filled saying, ‘Oh my kid flushed the medication down the toilet’.”

Medications sought out by addicts at the veterinarian’s office include the following:

  • Tramadol, a painkiller
  • Ketamine, an anesthetic
  • Hydrocodone, an opiate that can be used to treat coughing in dogs 

There are several examples nationwide. 

In Kentucky, a woman was arrested, accused of using razors to cut her golden retriever, injuring the dog so she could get drugs from the veterinarian.  ()

Just last year in Oregon, the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office seized 100,000 tramadol pills at a residence near Portland. Investigators found more than a dozen dogs living in filthy conditions.  Law enforcement arrested four people suspected of running a disguised opioid drug ring.  

Some states do now require veterinarians to participate in statewide drug monitoring programs.

Colorado and Maine recently added a law requiring vets to check the prescription history of pet owners as well as the pets. Other states, including Alaska, Connecticut and Virginia placed restrictions on the amount of opioids veterinarians can prescribe.

Not all veterinarians believe checking a pet owner’s prescription history is a good thing. Some argue veterinarians shouldn’t have access to extensive, personal medical information, suggesting it could be a HIPPA violation. 

The New Hampshire Legislature initially created a law requiring veterinarians to check a pet owner’s prescription history, but the legislature later repealed its law after veterinarians argued that their professional responsibilities did not extend to the human owner.

Click here for more information on the Missouri Prescription Drug Monitoring Program

Click here for more info on the Kansas Prescription Drug Monitoring Program

Copyright 2017 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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